African Burial Ground

August 10th, 2010 by admin Categories: New York Random No Responses

In the early 1990s when the African Burial Grounds came to the attention of construction workers excavating ground to erect a new United States GSA building on Reade Street in lower Manhattan, New York was in a quasi benefices state of municipal governance. Relatively speaking that is.

Sandwiched between the divisive Koch regime and the Giuliani reign of terror and annual cross dressing exhibition; the Honorable Mayor David Dinkins presided over the City of New York with gentility and urbane sophistication.   Nelson Mandela had recently been released from a 27 year political imprisonment sentence in protest again apartheid system of governance in South Africa. And in the summer of 1990 the Mandela’s had been feted proudly at public and private events around the metropolitan region.   

My earliest memories of the African Burial Ground are of standing at the corner, waiting for the light to change, so that I could cross the street. I remember holding my son’s hand and reading a bill posted on the lampost with a black and white image of grave with skeletal remains, which notified the public of the recent archaeological find, meeting arrangements, place and time.   Dare I admit, but the significance of this finding, went completely OVER.MY.HEAD.

Like ZOOM…


Of course I mentally acknowledged the discovery, yet I was not moved in anyway to participate in what I would view, 10 years later as a homegrown grassroot citizen resistance movement.  Men and women working together in what M. Bahati Kuumba calls, gendering social movement.*

In retrospect, I theorize that this political setting proved to be an auspicious period in time. One when a homemade grassroot movement organization was nurtured and grew to operate in sync with the cosmos, the universe and undoubtedly in unison with the will of the Ancestors.

The rediscovery of the African Burial Ground brought attention to the significance of New York in the African Slave Trade into the collective consciousness.  Slavery was not just “southern”. 

New York Harbor represented the largest human cargo trading port in the North. In fact New York was second  only to Charleston South Carolina, in its role in the human bondage trade during Colonial and Early American History.  American Jim Crow legislation can be traced to New York 1821. 

It was not until after we had founded Cinnamon Traveler, returned from the year round stint on the Vineyard, birthed the Y2K baby and gained higher spirituality did I realize the signficance of the African Burial Ground.  

When the youngest was still a toddler, I became a volunteer at large for the ABG.  Soon thereafter we left New York to relocate to the Southland, yet we stayed connected to the ABG Interpretative Center and the progress and ongoing work to create a fitting monument. 

Finally in Summer 2010 I had the where with all and good fortune to be in New York to salute and pay homage.

In one word…


An Urban Oasis in the middle of New York

Where Everyone Was Beautiful

And At EveryTurn

Both Seen and Felt

There is a lot of Love Here





*M. Bahati Kuumba, “You’ve Struck a Rock: Comparing Gender, Social Movements and Transformation in the United States and South Africa,” Gender and Society,Vol. 16, No. 4, (August 2002), 519-520.  Gendering social movement theorizes that any success resistance movement requires the full participation and cooperation between the sexes as they work together to dismantle the limits of discriminatory legislation and oppressive governmental regimes.